On the evening of 16 October 2023, a gunman opened fire near the intersection of Boulevard d’Ypres and Place Sainctelette in central Brussels, killing two people and seriously injuring one more. All three victims of the attack were Swedish nationals. Police officers immediately launched a pursuit for the attacker, who had fled the scene. The manhunt continued until the suspect was spotted at a café in Brussels’ Schaerbeek municipality on the morning of 17 October. Police officers then deployed to the scene and shot the suspect, who later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. Authorities believe the suspect, a Tunisian man, was inspired by the Islamic State group due to videos he previously posted on the internet. According to local prosecutors, the perpetrator likely targeted the victims due to their Swedish nationality. Authorities have not confirmed whether the attack had any possible links to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Immediately following the shooting, the Belgian government raised the terrorism alert level for the Brussels capital region to the highest possible Level 4, which indicates a serious and imminent risk of terrorist attacks. Concurrently, the threat level for rest of the country was raised to the second-highest Level 3. The National Crisis Center had advised residents in the Brussels capital region to exercise increased vigilance and to avoid nonessential travel during the police pursuit to find the attacker.